Automobile Gadget Holders

We have so many portable electronics these days: cell phones, mp3 players, GPS units, dashboard cameras, Sirius Satellite radio handsets, DVD players, hand held game units like the PSP and Nintendo DS, and the list goes on.  So many portable gadgets that can be used inside a car and yet we have no standard means of securing them and providing power for a all of these devices in any kind of standard fashion.  Where are my “cup holders for gadgets”?  I’m so very tired of suction cups falling down, weighted dashpads sliding off the dash, air vent mounts blocking my AC or just letting my expensive device dangle by it’s power cable because there’s no place to put it while using it.

I want to see the auto industry provide us with the gadget form of a cup holder.  Instead of holding our favorite beverage container, these gadget mount points would provide us a means to secure our portable electronics so that they can be used in a hands free fashion and yet won’t slide around the car or dashboard while in motion.  I envision several anchor points around the car so that the driver and passengers can enjoy them.  We don’t even have to develop a new standard for these anchor points since we can use the same design as picture cameras already enjoy  with tripod mounts.  I wish every car contained several female anchor points for a 1/4-20 screw with a small depression next to support an anti-self unthreading mechanism that could hold a few pounds (this is what all cameras already use as a universal tripod mount, so a standard already exists… use it!).  Put a couple of these anchor points on the dashboard, a couple in the center console and a couple for the back seat would also be nice.  I also want USB power supply ports near these anchor points as well so I can plug my portable device into the car’s power supply.  Lets move away from requiring the old, clunky 12 volt interface we currently use to power/recharge our devices and adopt the much more portable USB cable.

Aftermarket device holder manufacturers can make us flexible stalks to mount on these anchor points to hold our various devices if our device doesn’t have a means to mount itself directly to these anchor points.  Some of these flexible stalks could even incorporate a USB power cable to help ease the cable jungle that might develop.  Maybe even provide an “audio IN” jack near the front console mounts as an easy means to plug satellite receivers and audio player devices into the car’s stereo system, too.

C’mon automakers, give me my gadget anchor points already!

Nature at Night

Last night, after a long day packing, I took a different route home.  Instead of the freeway, I took a more leisure rural route.  It was a nice night at 67F with a slight breeze so I had all the windows rolled down.  I love to drive and exploring a rural route at night on a windy, unfamiliar road was a thrill I haven’t experienced in quite a while.  Along the way, at a junction a few miles out from my home yet, I stopped and wandered in a nearby field.  Cool night air with a hint of moonlight sifting through the cloud layer above lent a light just bright enough see, but still holding on to that mystery complete darkness.  The night was alive with the crickets and toads and their various songs and as I gazed out over the vast field, a mysterious spark of white light would appear and then fade as my gaze would shift over to focus on it.  Intrigued, I watched as several such little sparks appear and disappear.  The Bell Witch is rumored to play such tricks upon travellers and she supposedly haunts the area I am in*.  My imagination immediately gets to work as my curiosity leads me to close in on a nearby light by a tree.  After several minutes of observation, I realize these tiny little blue-white sparks are merely fireflies, though they aren’t giving off the golden drop of sunshine kind of light I am used to.  Could it be a trick of the moonlight or is this a variation on the normal firefly, I wonder.  Growing up in California, fireflies are magical creatures to me as they don’t exist where I grew up, so everything about them is a new wonder to me.

I stay in the field for a while longer enjoying the scene and taking in the night song of the wildlife.  It’s soothing, apart from the few interruptions of passing motorists with their headlights on bright and their music turned up quite loud.  Having grown up in a city, nights like this were few and far between and hardly ever without someone pestering me to get going somewhere.  Letting your mind wander in such situations can be quite fun.  I can easily see these blue-white lights being mistaken for Will-o-wisp luring people deeper into the night taking them on some adventure.  The barks of a farmer’s dog being that of something far more savage prowling the night.  Coyotes and deer do actually wander around this area and I have no doubt some of the rustling in the bushes I’d heard that night might have been one of them.

After some time, I head back to the car and make my way home.  I feel more relaxed and less stressed.  I breathe in deeply of the night air glad to have taken the long way home this night.  Since I’m still recovering from my illness, once I do get home, I crash in bed as soon as possible, but it is a one that is less exhaustion and more of a natural sleep cycle (handy since mine’s been disrupted for many days).

*The Bell Witch of Adams county, Tennessee is by far, the strangest “ghost” story I’ve ever read about.  It follows none of the usual conventions of a typical ghost story and is one of the very few that have made it into historical record.  It is currently the only known case of a death certificate in the U.S. being issued as caused by a spirit.  A short summary can be found here, but if you’re really interested, getting a book from the library on it would be the best way to go as the story and events of the town surrounding it during the haunting are quite interesting.

BBQ Tip #36

Now that spring is upon us and more and more days see sunshine and warmer weather, the BBQ’s are being readied for some grillin’.  There’s a really simple way to add a little flavor to whatever you are cooking on a covered BBQ.  Just follow these steps for putting a bit of kick in your grill.

  1. Take a pie tin and place it off in a corner of the grill.
  2. Pour in some beer (whatever is handy) to at least cover the bottom if it were perfectly flat – about a half of a can should be plenty.
  3. Let it heat up along with the BBQ a few minutes before you put on your foodstuffs.
  4. Now just grill your food as normal.

This technique works best if you close the lid to the BBQ during the grilling process as an open grill won’t be able to capture the steam to add any flavoring.  In addition to giving your grilled dish some added flavor, you will also add some moisture to the process so that it won’t dry out as much.  Try experimenting with different alcohols, each one adds a slightly different flavor.

A sign of the times

A tale from the “strange, but true” section of my career, which at this moment is a cross between small, independent computer consulting and searching for a decent company to provide a more steady income.

On my way to the office for my final interview on Wednesday, I received a call wondering if I can move the meeting up a half an hour.  Apparently, the big wigs in the company called a last minute, all partner meeting and my interviewers wanted to make sure there was enough time to go ahead with mine while still being able to attend the recently called meeting.  I had left home early to make sure I got there in time, so this schedule change was no problem for me to accommodate.

The final interview goes well.  The company seems fairly well run and everyone I had met were both professional and friendly. All that was left to be done was to go over the fine points of the contract to make sure everything was clear and equitable.

The next day, the headhunter agent that arranged for everything called me up to let me know that the position I was applying for had been eliminated due to budgetary constraints.  This was a direct result of the big meeting that occurred right after my final interview the day before.  So instead of going into the office to sign on the dotted line, I had been furloughed. The company asked for my permission to keep my contact details so they can call me up and see if I’m still interested and available when the position opens back up — but that could be another quarter or two.

Farewell Fuzzy Buddy

Some of you might have noticed that last week I spent nearly all of my time in Classic WoW, keeping mostly to myself in chat as well.  I wanted to do something mind numbingly boring to keep my mind off of worrying for my missing cat, Raja.  I found myself constantly looking out the back door hoping to see him wanting inside.  It was also a good choice since my latency is between 200 and 500 constantly, making serious combat a bit difficult. When doing ultra lowbie quests, though, it wasn’t something for which I needed to pay much attention.

Yesterday, I learned of Raja’s fate and now understand that he will not be returning to me.  He was struck and killed by a vehicle on a nearby road. No longer will I feel him play-attacking my hands and feet.  No more napping on my shoulder as I play WoW or nuzzling my neck.  Only memories of him playing with his toys remain, especially his favorite of chasing the laser dot.  I only had Raja for a year, but in that year I made sure I always gave him the attention he wanted and never let a chance to spend time with him go by.  He was my fuzzy buddy and spent his time with me whatever I was doing.  He was always close at hand when working out in the yard, in the house, or on the computer – sometimes trying to “help out” by batting my tools or pouncing on my hands.  He attended company whenever I had any and enjoyed my young nieces playing with him.  I used to break off bits of my cheese when making a sandwich for lunch so that he could eat it.  I loved Raja and will miss him dearly.  RIP my fuzzy buddy.

Raja can sleep in the oddest places

Raja can sleep in the oddest places

Raja sleeping in my favorite chair

Raja sleeping in my favorite chair

Freezing Rain

A year and a week goes by and now my new heating unit went boom and has stopped working.  The freezing rainstorm going on has made travel near impossible, knocking over trees and powerlines due to the added ice and now my heater decides to die now that a week as passed since it’s warranty is up. Time to light the fireplace for the next few days.  I best bring in some of the wet, ice encrusted firewood from outside so it has a chance to thaw and dry before my small stack in the garage runs out.

At least the sight outside has it’s own beauty to witness, even though one of my pine trees broke a main branch under the weight of the ice.

Ice coats my backyard.

Ice coats my backyard.